Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama, is remembered as one of Tibet’s greatest poets and most scandalous lovers. His love songs, still sung in the taverns of Lhasa and the yak pastures of Kham, eulogize the bittersweet conundrum of sensual desire.

That girl who’s stolen my mind
If we could be together forever
Like the joy of finding a jewel
Deep in the depths of the sea.

White teeth smiling.
Brightness of skin.
On my seat in the high lama’s row
At the quick edge of my glance
I caught her looking at me.

Doing what my lover wishes
I lose my chance for dharma.
But wandering in lonely mountain retreats
Opposes my lover’s wishes.

By drawing diagrams on the ground
The stars of space can be measured.
Though familiar with the soft flesh
Of my lover’s body
I cannot measure her depths.

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